The 2006 Paralympic Winter Games got underway on Friday with Canada’s final sledge hockey practice prior to the opening of the competition, and a spectacular Opening Ceremonies in Turin, Italy.
But Canada’s Sledge Hockey Team has been in Paralympics preparation mode since it arrived in Turin on March 5th. Team Canada has had great practices at the Torino Esposizioni this week under the guidance of head coach Jeff Snyder and assistant coaches Mark Gallant and Shawn Frydberg.
March 9th was somewhat of an adventure for most members of the team, and they have been talking about it ever since. The bus transporting them from a tour of the downtown locked its wheels and was stuck on a downtown street for over an hour. Players were entertained by the bus driver’s persistent attempts to get the bus free. As the players and staff waited for another bus to pick them up, they ended up signing autographs for interested bystanders.
On March 10th, Canada practiced for a final time prior to the beginning of the competition. The players are chomping at the bit for the games to begin and also excited to get the Games officially underway with the Official Ceremony.
The Official Ceremonies were held on Friday, March 10th, in the evening, with the players proudly following their captain Todd Nicholson into the Stadium. Nicholson was selected earlier this week as the flagbearer, marking the second time in less than a month that Canada was led into the Opening Ceremonies by a hockey player. Danielle Goyette was Canada’s flagbearer at the Olympic Winter Games on February 10th.
Canada opens up against Great Britain on Saturday, March 11th at 9:30 am (local time) at Torino Esposizioni. Norway and Italy are in the same group as Canada, with Norway as the top seed, after capturing the 2004 World Championship. Group B is made up of USA, Japan, Sweden and Germany.